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Buffy The Vampire SlayerM. Trachtenberg’s Eurotrip crosses continent with idiocy
By Aaron Davidson
Friday 20 February 2004, by Webmaster
Friday February 20, 2004
`Eurotrip’ crosses continent with idiocy
By Aaron Davidson
Directed by Jeff Schaffer
Blue Sea Productions
There is something to be inferred when a trailer begins with the phrase, "from the producers of." An applicable example: Eurotrip, the story of a newly graduated teen and his three friends who haphazard across Europe after high school in search of love or sex - or both.
"From the producers of Road Trip and Old School," the trailer coos, logos cutting to beautiful youngsters getting naked, being naked and staying naked. Heads turn in response; I know mine did. And for good reason: While Road Trip will never reach the cultural ubiquity of American Pie, it was every bit the fervid, post-pubescent sex farce. And what Old School lacked of Road Trip’s relentless wit, it made up for with Will Ferrell’s lovable Frank the Tank, an as-drunk, buffoonish Belushi for "our" generation.
But neither Frank nor his Tank was the product of Old School’s production team. Old School, Road Trip and the on-the-horizon Starsky & Hutch (out Mar. 5) were, in fact, the products of Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong, the screenwriters and, in Phillips’ case, the director. Did either of these campy conveyors of comedy contribute to Eurotrip? No. They did not.
That alone doesn’t fail the film; the actual director and screenwriters accomplish that on their own. Eurotrip’s director is Jeff Schaffer, and the writers are Alec Berg and David Mandel. This trio last teamed up on 2003’s unmaking of Mike Myers, the odious The Cat In The Hat. Now see through the film’s first veil: Its only connection to decency (for those who consider Road Trip and Old School that, which I mostly do) is monetary; the same people forked over dollars for both.
Seeing through the second veil isn’t too hard,(omit comma jc) either: Eurotrip is a lousy movie. The plot, flexible as a gymnast, twists in the name of slapstick, and slapstick proves a heartless muse. Not to say that anyone would go to see Eurotrip for the substance, well, except maybe that couple who swears they walked into the theater showing The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. Whoops.
Here is the story: Scott Mechlowicz has an online relationship with a European he thought was a guy, but turns out to be the kind-of-beautiful Jessica B”hrs. Necessary tangent: A nearly completive majority of the women in Eurotrip get topless, so the female actors can only be attractive to a certain point. B”hrs is the case-in-point: she may be slender and blonde, but she has obviously done her share of porn. Kirsten Dunst says that she will only show all for director Pedro AlmodĒvar; it’s doubtful that anyone in Eurotrip was saving their body for Jeff Schaffer.
The exception to the "will inevitably get topless" rule is the wrongly cast Michelle Trachtenberg, best known as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s little sister on the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Trachtenberg is cast as an awkward, just-another-one-of-the-guys type, and that is hard to accept from minute one. Her lips are too full, her body is too willowy and her hair is too shiny; like every other girl in Eurotrip, she looks like a stripper, perhaps benefiting from looking sort-of cute - but only occasionally.
The posse is rounded out by Travis Wester, who plays Trachtenberg’s nerdish twin, and Jacob Pitts, who plays the irascible best friend who is willing to do anything, but actually does nothing. Pitts’ idea of character seems based on a late-teens David Spade, which equates to a shaggy-haired sideshow of half-smiled sarcasm, with percent body fat matching percent of funny jokes made (read: zero).
These four meet up in Europe, and the calamity begins. Their journey is a stereotypical sightseeing tour of the continent: They begin in London (football hooligans), then onto Paris (mime fight), and somehow they get to Slovenia (where they are treated like royalty for their $1.87 American) and Berlin (Hitler youth, lots of Hasselhoff). The film’s working title was The Ugly Americans, which begs the question: Were the filmmakers referring to their characters - or just being really honest and self-referential?
Their itinerary sounds fun enough, but the script makes every awful decision needed to negate the plurality of settings. A night in Amsterdam sums up the letdown: Mechlowicz and Trachtenberg buy pot brownies, Pitts goes to a sex club, and Wester gets some action in an alley. Except the brownies have no pot in them, Pitts is tortured by a dominatrix (an unrecognizable Lucy Lawless) and Wester gets robbed at knifepoint.
Neither Road Trip nor Old School were this hopeless in their misadventures, and they were better comedies because of it. A final warning to all those T&A-lovers out there just looking for some skin: Know that for every rangy, mostly nude woman in Eurotrip, there is a completely, full-frontally nude man (thanks to a misbegotten nude beach scene).
Eurotrip’s most substantial disappointment is that there is no final satisfaction, and that very void mouths the penultimate dissatisfaction: Any other use of time would have been better. Cinema should provide distraction, not desire it.